Elephant sculptures bring environmental message to Buckingham Palace

·3-min read

A herd of life-sized elephant sculptures have gone on display in front of Buckingham Palace to promote the co-existence of humans and animals.

The 100 Asian elephants, which on Saturday were pictured crossing the Mall in London, were created by communities in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu who live in close proximity to the large land mammals.

Actress Joanna Lumley, Bollywood star Amy Jackson and presenter Donna Air posed for pictures to promote the installation.

Donna Air, Amy Jackson and Joanna Lumley (Grant Walker/PA)
Donna Air, Amy Jackson and Joanna Lumley (Grant Walker/PA)

The models were positioned by conservation group Elephant Family as part of the CoExistence campaign, a response to “the increasing overlap between the human and animal world, which is in part responsible for the spread of deadly zoonotic diseases”.

Following the parade in the Mall, the elephants will be displayed in various London locations before going on sale for between £6,000 for a calf and £30,000 for a fully grown tusker.

Gurkha guards will look after the sculptures as they are transported to destinations including the King’s Road and Royal Parks this summer.

The CoExistence campaign on the Mall (Grant Walker/PA)
The CoExistence campaign on the Mall (Grant Walker/PA)

Each model is made from lantana, an invasive weed whose removal from protected areas benefits wildlife and the herd is joined by a flock of extinct or endangered model British birds such as the nightingale, curlew, Dalmatian pelican and turtle dove, highlighting the biodiversity lost in the UK in recent years.

All proceeds will go to the work of Elephant Family, including securement of wildlife corridors to enable safe movement for animals and people, the expansion of national parks and the protection of indigenous and tribal knowledge.

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall’s Clarence House twitter account said: “Why did the elephants cross the road? To raise awareness of healthy co-existence between humans and animals! Today, 100 life-size Asian elephants created by communities in Tamil Nadu are crossing the Mall, placed there by conservation charity.

“Once safely across the Mall, the elephants will be on display in several London parks. The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall are Joint Presidents of @elephantfamily – find out more about the charity’s work.”

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Ruth Ganesh, creative lead and trustee of Elephant Family, said: “Today marks the first significant step on the herd’s 13,000-mile migration around the world. Over the past 18 months, many countries have gone into lockdown.

“Brought about by tragic circumstances, this ‘great pause’ – coined the ‘anthropause’ – is providing crucial guidance on how to best share space with animals in our crowded planet.

“The elephants are here to tell their story about the inspiring ways we can co-exist with all the other living beings that make our world magical – from tigers and orangutans to nightingales and elephants.”

Lumley, a long-standing ambassador of Elephant Family, said: “The elephants crossing London’s Mall are as mighty as they are meaningful, and I am proud to represent this campaign.

The elephants were created using lantana, an invasive weed (Grant Walker/PA)
The elephants were created using lantana, an invasive weed (Grant Walker/PA)

“The herd has arrived at the time of a great pause, when our human footprint on the wild world has lessened and wildlife everywhere has flourished.

“These elephants carry with them inspiring stories of coexistence and we have much to learn from them.”

Fellow ambassador Jackson said: “Following The Mall, these elephants will continue to make their way around the globe on their 13,000-mile migration.

“As they reach new places they will tell the story of our crowded planet, the effect of our human footprint on wild spaces and share inspiring ways we can coexist with all living beings that make our world magical – from tigers and badgers to nightingales and elephants.”